How to tour more by renting your space

One of the key parts of PedalShift is trying to answer the question: “how can I tour more?”. For most, the major barrier is time, with money coming in a close second. I’ve found a partial solution that works for me, and I’d like to share it – renting my space out to vacationers while I’m not using it.

It’s not a revolutionary concept, of course… it’s not like I invented renting my space out, but it manages to neatly fit the touring lifestyle. First, it generates revenue that can supplement income, which may mean you can work a job that provides more time off or increases the amount you make as a self-employed business owner or consultant. Second, it takes advantage of an asset you control but don’t use while away. It’s kind of a win-win.

For some, doing this only while you’re on tour or otherwise out of town (business trips? holidays?) can generate the kind of income that means the difference between camping in thunderstorms and splurging on a hotel. That alone is a great justification. For others, if you have alternate accommodations available (significant other or family nearby? an opportunity for a mini tour? a camper?) the prospects of opening rental of your home or apartment all year means real income possibilities. It all balances on how much of an alteration you’re willing to make to your current lifestyle versus the income you could make.

There are cons to all of these pros… but strikingly few in my experience. I’ve had a couple of odd renters, but nobody that’s done much more than make silly decisions. There’s certainly more wear and tear on my place compared to if it were unoccupied. A lot of people ask me if I ever worry about people stealing things. The service I use (AirBnB) has some pretty nifty security features included picture ID verification, and social media linkages. Most importantly though, all rental fees are paid upfront, and due to minimum stay requirements a “bad actor” would need to shell out hundreds of dollars merely to get access to my place. Plus, I get final say on any potential guest, so if I don’t have a good feeling, I can always decline the request. I haven’t had anything “walk” in over a year of rentals, and the only repairs I’ve had to make were to items that tend to be problematic when I’m around too.

I started last spring almost on a lark, and I’ve exceeded my expectations – I grossed 20% of my pretax income last year. My carrying costs increase (slightly higher utility bills, cleaning fees, plowing my driveway a bit more often) but overall the income goes right into my touring and savings funds.

The best part about all of this? I can manage it from anywhere. With a mobile device and a good working relationship with my cleaning partner, it works like a charm. More on how it all works in future posts.

When I started this site, I mashed together a word: pedalpreneur. Other than being a mouthful, it was a concept I wanted to develop and discuss in the PedalShift community… what kinds of business ideas are out there to help us tour more? What kinds of things can we do on tour itself? There are lots of examples of this… artisans who work from the road, consultants who can take calls from virtually anywhere, writers and photographers who make a living chronicling their adventures… the list goes on and on. If you work on the road while you tour, I’d love to hear more from you! What kinds of things have you learned?